From the EPL to the NPSL: The Story of Denton Diablos FC’s Eoin Wearen
By Scott Wegener/NPSL.com
Five years ago, if you would have asked Eoin (pronounced Oh-wen) Wearen if he’d be playing for an NPSL national championship in Denton, Texas he would have asked, what is the NPSL and where is Denton?
Now, the 28-year-old center-back, playing 4,448 miles from his home in Dublin, Ireland is poised to captain an extremely young Denton Diablos squad, in just their second NPSL season, to a national championship Saturday against Tulsa Athletic.
It all started for Wearen in North Dublin at St. Kevin’s Boys F.C., a historic club that began in 1959 and grew to be one of the biggest clubs in Ireland. From there, Wearen made the move to England to play for the West Ham United youth team. During his final contract year with West Ham, in a U23 game, Wearen felt a “pop” in his knee. It was an ACL tear that Wearen said, “was really difficult for someone who had never had a serious injury and at the time it was particularly difficult being in the last year of my contract.”
The knee injury, while unfortunate, turned out to be a blessing in disguise as Wearen was able to go back home to Ireland and play in the Irish Premier League with Bohemians. Wearen would play six seasons in the Irish Premier League with four different teams before another ACL injury, this time in his other knee, would sideline him. The timing couldn’t have been worse because Wearen was looking at making a move to the U.S.
“In 2017 I tore my second ACL in the other leg in a practice in a preseason,” Wearen said. “I was due to sign for the Tampa Bay Rowdies at the time, so that ended those plans.”
In 2019 a third knee injury, a torn meniscus, would hamper Wearen. However, he would go on to sign a two-and-a-half-year contract with Glenavon FC. In December of ’19, Wearen was approached about the possibility of coaching in the U.S. and agreed with Glenavon to mutually terminate his contract.
So how did he end up in Denton, Texas playing for the Diablos? Wearen was looking for coaching gigs in the U.S. and found the Evolution in Colleyville, TX. What was so special about Colleyville? The club was founded by a fellow Irishman, so it was a little taste of home for him. He knew he wanted to keep playing while beginning his coaching career, so he did some homework and came across the Denton Diablos, a side that finished third in the competitive Lone Star Conference of the NPSL in their inaugural season.
When asked why he picked the Diablos, Wearen said “the owners are really close with the players and really close with the fans. It was really similar (to Bohemians) and led me to believe it was a good choice to go with the Diablos at the time.”
“The one thing about Damon (co-owner of the Diablos) is that he’ll do anything for any single one of us, and that’s not the case everywhere,” Wearen continued. “For someone like me, that’s away from my family, it’s great that he’s there and it goes beyond the sport side.”
Wearen spoke highly of Diablos co-owner Damon Gochneaur and Gochneaur was just as praise heavy on Wearen.
“Eoin is a special player,” Gochneaur continued. “We’re fortunate as a club to have someone so humble, so hard-working and such a consummate professional. His experience pays huge dividends for our club on and off the field.”
Now, in his first NPSL season with the Diablos, Wearen wears the captain’s armband.
“He is the guy with the experience,” Head coach Ramón Raya said. “He is the leader of our defense and a solid pillar on our team. For sure, one of the positive leaders.”
Whatever the outcome on Saturday, Wearen is proud of his team for the fight they’ve shown throughout the season and the NPSL Playoffs. He wants to help some of the younger players realize their potential.
“I’ve been there before, but I want to help some of our younger players make a living in the game,” Wearen said.
Which brings us to the NPSL National Championship on Saturday at Denton High School.
When asked about going from the Irish Premier League to NPSL, Wearen said, “when I look back, I’ve played in bigger games, more high-profile games, but one thing Ramón says before every game is this game is your biggest game. Whatever else you’ve done is in the past, this is your biggest game.”
He may have seen bigger games in his past, but for a lot of these young players for the Diablos it is the biggest game of their career. They’ll have a national audience waiting for them and it’ll be the job of Eoin Wearen to keep calm heads and focus on the task at hand, bringing a first NPSL National Championship to the Lone Star Conference and Denton, Texas.
Photo Credit: Ric Kruszynski/NPSL.com